Thursday, December 27, 2007

Seasons Greetings from Paramina Rift

Not many pictures taken in the B A Start household this holiday season. Since I know, gentle reader, that this troubles you, I have included below instructions for a do-it-yourself picture of Alex's Christmas.

Step 1: Get a picture of Alex's face.

Step 2: Get a picture of a Nintendo DS.

Step 3: Place the item from step 2 on top of the item from step 1.

Step 4: Imagine the sounds of festive music and the children's-toy smell of Swiffer Wet-Jet fluid.

Finding a place for oneself in the finely-tuned clockwork that is Her Worshipfulness's family Christmas can be a challenge for a clumsy laze-about like myself. I can stand around in the kitchen and wait for orders, looking all the world like a geeky Jack Ryan aboard the Red October as the gruff officers of Christmas step over and around me as if directed by some silent language I was never meant to learn. Or I can stay out of the way, which is sure to lead to some spat about my perceived inertia.

This holiday season I tried a new tack: "honey, I'll be right here playing DS. You just let me know if you need any help. ANYthing. Opening a jar, picking up a dropped spoon, whatever. Just call me." It worked out fairly well, I believe, but the ubiquitous stigma against video games earned me few points if any with in-laws.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Everything is funnier with seventies-style music.

There's a single synapse in my head which insists there's some pac-man glitch that allows for the kind of switcheroo the protagonist in this video pulls in the alley. That synapse, I fear, is wrong.

Monday, September 3, 2007

It Is Absolute

Obsessive B A Starters may remember I wrote an article for the Buffalo Spree holiday guide stating that the strip of Delaware Ave from Target to Kenmore Ave is the city's video game corridor. Gamecrazy, EB Games, Gamespot all within walking distance -- add in Target and Blockbuster, and it's the major industry for the block.

Yesterday, driving back from the heinous suburbs, I passed a new game store on Delaware a block up from Kenmore. Oogie Games, LLC -- or at least that's what the tarpaulin/sign says. I can only assume the owner read the article and decided to jump on the wagon before it gets too crowded in Buffalo's Akihabara.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Avid B A Starters will remember the Final Reality post, in which we discussed using experience points to track one's progress in real-life goals. Here's the idea in webcomic form:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Playoff Living, Installment the Fourth

First #4: 2nd Intermission Geekiness

Greg and I attended that game against the Leafs where the local boys came back like fifty goals in the last seven picoseconds of play. T'was awesome.

In between the second and third periods, we opted to risk ejection for wanton nerdosity and catch a little DS. One of the young bucks sitting next to us craned his neck over, presumably to drunkenly taunt us. "So, you two are connected wirelessly, right?" he asked.

The tradition has stuck, in a fashion reminiscent of that Gradius game that would play on the Jumbotron at the second intermission in Blades Of Steel.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Watching Dipietro's little flip-out (read: stick breaking) tonight warmed my cold, black heart.
It reminded me of Blades of Steel.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More Theory

Not to bring up the video games as art topic again, but here's a decent article on the topic. And here's a quote from it:

Molyneux says he and his crew at Lionhead Studios (now part of Microsoft) take a similar approach to creating games. “Does a painter decide to make art or paint a picture? Does a composer decide to compose a piece of music or make art? Does a film maker want to make a film or art? I think they're more concerned with evoking emotions and creating something meaningful and enduring.

“I set out, especially today, to instill emotions in the people who interact with my games, which are broader and more visual than they have been before,” he explains. “I want players to feel a range of emotions, not just excitement—that is my ambition. If on this basis some critics describe this as artistic, then I will feel like I have succeeded.”

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Sometimes, people out east die playing video games. Please, people of the Orient, stop. Just make this stop. It's bad enough we're all seen as lard-ass weirdos who are forced to commit violent acts by these brainwashing machines, now we die from it? Come on. Get those kids outside.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Yes, that says 'fanboy'.

Can't remember if I told you this or not (it's one of the side-effects of never paying attention to the constant stream of little gifts one's sensory inputs offers one), but I tried to get a job as a pro blogger recently. This post caught my attention, and I gave it a shot. "So, let me get this straight. I link to news stories from other sites and you give me money?"

I made the first cut, but it's been a few weeks since the second deadline, so it should be safe to say I'm not the guy.

The experience does beg a veritable horn-o'-plenty of questions, though. Are there other similar jobs out there? Is the time worth the supplemental income? Would it give me any writer cred?
Would it be fun?

As with all things writery, I'd love to try it. Okay, maybe not all things writery. I don't think I could bring myself to go to anything called a "blank jam" where blank is a style, genre, or type of writing. I draw the line at jams. Other than that, though.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Final Reality

Why not live life by experience points?

From their dice-and-paper roots to the modern user-generated worlds, role-playing games have always had to deal with the question of how a character develops. This is normally handled through experience points (XP). Kill a were-turtle, get 5 XP. Accrue 500 XP and you gain a level. Et cetera.

While certainly an attempt to recreate in some way a person's actual skill advancement in real life, it would seem that XP would work in the actual world similarly to the way it does in the digital. For example. Let's take a skill you want to develop, say running. Set a series of levels in front of you, and choose XP amounts for given tasks:

Go for a 1 mile run, get 1 XP. Go for a 3 mile run, get 4 XP. Run in a charity event, 15 XP. Finish within 1 minute of the leader in a competitive run, 200 XP. Run a marathon, 10,000 XP.

Level 1: 30 XP. Level 2: 500 XP. Level 3: 3500 XP. Level 4: 5000 XP. Etc.

So, you could get to high levels just by running a mile at a time, but getting there would take forever. Doing bigger things yields bigger numbers, and thus faster level-ups.

Here's a wrinkle: in games, a higher level means better stats. A level 2 character is stronger than a level 1, and that means an easier time killing beasties. Aside from the fact that you would actually improve, how would this work in real life? I say you'd have to have your friends involved, and the bragging rights would do it. Either that or have specific level tasks, e.g. you can't get to level 4 until you run the Turkey Trot, no matter how many XP you've got.

This could work for all kinds of things.

  • Career -- go to a seminar, 10XP. Get the corner office, 5000XP.
  • Arts -- participate in Nanowrimo, 150XP. Get published in a magazine, 500XP.
  • Education -- go to a class, 1XP. Get a PhD, 10,000XP.
  • Fandom -- read the Lord of the Rings again, 5XP. Go to Marquette and lie about doing a research project to get the Special Collections guy to bring out the secret not-for-display Tolkien stuff, 10,000XP.
  • Connoisseur -- try a new beer, 5XP. Go to a wine tour in another state, 1,000XP.
  • Family affairs -- email your mother, 2XP. Don't yell at Shannon on Xmas, 50,000XP.
Unfortunately, it could also work for negative things. Smoke a pack, 100XP. Perhaps this could be factored in. You want to stop doing something? Take the XP away from something you're working towards. So, say the F-word, take 5XP from your Runner class count. That's 5 miles you just lost. F indeed.

If you're willing to spend hours of your life pretending to be a druid and running around killing lizards until you can get that robe you want, why not take that rewards system and move it to real life? I'll DM.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Bye Bye Birdie

I saw of these one time. IN A DREAM. Figures my clairvoyance would be limited to videogames.